As I sit in
the bright yellow dentist’s chair, a man in surgical gloves and
a pink top advances towards me. In his hand is not a drill, but
a fan-shaped mirror.
It sounds like
the kind of dream you have after too much rich food just before
bedtime. Except that this is the middle of the day, and I’m in a
large, Victorian mansion on the outskirts of Huddersfield, with
my eyes, and mouth, wide open.
this is the only dental practice in Britain where they don’t just
fill your teeth; they analyse your tongue.
most dentists take note of the state of your tongue (and gums) when
they’re looking inside your mouth, and are well aware that a carpet
of yellow fur on your tongue indicates you overdid things last night.
at the John Roberts Holistic Dentistry Practice, in West Yorkshire,
they draw not just on common sense, but on the specific teaching
of traditional Chinese medicine.
Just as Western
opticians have now started inspecting the eyes for signs of diabetes,
Chinese physicians have for centuries been using a tongue ‘map’
to chart what’s happening in the rest of the body.
of the tongue corresponds to a different internal organ; which means,
basically, the tongue is the window through which one can look into
the body,’ Dr Roberts explains.
is looking for, then, is any swelling, discolouration or cracking
that will give him a clue about the wider me. He’s gazing at the
rifts and chasms of my tongue as closely as if this were Crime Scene
down the centre of your tongue, not bad at all,’ he murmurs appreciatively.
‘Not too deep, not too shallow. Not so good, though, is the scalloping
on the right-hand side.’
I ask, somewhat alarmed. Holding the mirror he offers me up to my
mouth, I view my lunar-esque lingual landscape. And those bumps
don’t look like scallops, more like cocktail sausages.
the point is, they indicate issues with the gall bladder,’ says
Issues? I don’t
like the sound of that. ‘We’re not talking about serious disease,’
‘More an imbalance
that can be remedied, usually by diet. You’ve been eating too much
hot and spicy food and it could be upsetting your system.’